Danger Ranger: 1988 Ford Ranger GT

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Put this one in the file of “Things they don’t make anymore but I wish they did.” While today’s version of factory-tuned includes pointless crossover vehicles like the Nismo-tweaked Nissan Juke and Chevy HHR, the 80’s were known partially for the widespread popularity of sport trucks. Small, light and benefiting from everything their in-house tuning departments could throw at them, variants like this 1988 Ford Ranger GT here on eBay are curious reminders that compact pickup trucks were once all the rage. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Jim S. for the find! 

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While I’m perhaps a bit too effusive about a truck that by today’s standards likely has horrible driving dynamics, I can find a lot to love here. The factory body kit, Marchal fog lights, aluminum wheels and sport bucket seats are the kind of things people went nuts for in the early days of the sport tuning scene. Often times, vehicles that receive some level of “sport” enhancements only get a set of flashy wheels and a spoiler. This Ranger GT (and other Ford products like the Thunderbird and Escort) at least got some neat visual dress-up components as well as suspension modifications for improved handling. Other bonuses in the Ranger GT included a full instrument cluster and a rear sliding window.

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The 2.9 Cologne V6 was the only powertrain available, but at least it provided some decent scoot when paired with the manual transmission. In addition, power was channeled through a limited-slip differential and sway bars front and rear helped keep the truck from going too far off course. This motor lived in many Ford vehicles both in the U.S. and overseas, and is a popular candidate for turbocharging. Companies like Turbo Technics built a reputation for extracting impressive power from the Cologne units with cars like the Ford Sierra. In the case of this example here, the sellers have had it gone through by the original selling dealer, addressing several maintenance items including drive belts, brakes and a new alternator.

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Though the paint is faded, I’m betting it will come back to life nicely with a good buffing. The sellers have listed this Ranger GT after receiving it via inheritance from their grandfather, who was the original owner. Although it’s sad to see it moving on after clearly many years of gentle use, I hope it continues to be loved by a Ranger GT aficionado (they’re out there – they have their own Facebook group!) With the overall condition appearing quite solid and with all the GT-specific bits attached (though I’d want to hunt down some proper Marchal fog light covers), this looks like a fun and rare project that can help out with hardware store runs. Bidding starts at $3,800 with no reserve in sight.

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Comments

  1. JW

    I love the Ranger & S10 pickups but don’t care for ground effects on them especially since I only buy 4×4’s. The color on this one really makes me nausea and with a little over a day left in the auction with no bids I must not be alone.

  2. Chris in Nashville

    Looks more like a $2500 to me…

  3. brakeservo

    The Cologne V6 is not a bad little engine – here’s my favourite application of said mill – in my 1977 Pilgrim Cobra roadster

  4. brakeservo

    Here’s the whole car – next to Terry Price’s well known Ferrari GTO 4575GT at Carmel, California.

  5. Pete

    Love the small and sport pickups. Wish I could get one new… Not happy with the Frontier I ended up with. .

    Too big for my drive and Horrible heating/ac systems. I can’t get a 6cyl in a 2WD either

  6. Rob

    There was an SCCA Sports Truck Challenge based on the Ranger and other small trucks of the time.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCCA_RaceTruck_Challenge

  7. grant

    I learn something every day. Did not know there was ever a Ranger GT. With that said, I always thought the body moldings looked like an aftermarket add on, and not an attractive one. This is too much for an 80’s Ranger. Good trucks till they’re heat to death.

  8. Pro

    Was this paint originally two-stage with clear coat or just enamel? I’m wondering whether this will buff out or cloudy clear coat that is impossible. Paint was said to be faded from the sun. Car is from North Carolina and wondering about hidden rust under those body moldings. Is this a worry from conditions in North Carolina? What were the flaws and things to worry about with the 88 Ranger GT? Thanks!!

    • gino

      I remember as a sophomore in HS a friend of mine was able to get his hands on a brand new one of these.. I was driving a 85 toyota with the 22R so when I would ride in his it felt blazing fast. I know it wasnt but it had nice power and i remember it having a smooth ride and decent exhaust tone considering what it is. He had the truck about 7 o 8 years before selling it with about 100k on the clock, He claimed it never went in for any type of major repairs during the time he had it. Oh yes and it did have a clear coat on it. I dont have anything to spend on this at the time or I might make this dude an offer and get this one back to a 9 at least!

  9. William H

    A buddy of mine had one of these and, as someone mentioned, the driving dynamics were horrible. It was like driving a brick mounted on marshmallows.

    Hey, now, don’t knock the HHRs. I have one for a work vehicle. It gets great mileage and you wouldn’t believe how much equipment you can haul around in the back of one. Best thing about it I can get my 6’5″ frame in and out of it with ease. Probably never would have bought it if I hadn’t needed it for work though.

    • AMX Brian

      The same can be said for the PT Cruiser. Everyone calls it ugly, but it’s good on gas and I even fit a loveseat in the back. It had some good pep and that was without the turbo or 5 speed like on some. The funny part was riding with my father. We both have broad shoulders and our arms would touch eachother and the doors at the same time.

      It was a hand-me-down from my grandfather and my sister had it up until a few weeks ago when some dumb woman plowed into her and twisted the frame. Such a shame for a reliable car that had just hit 100k with very few maintenance issues over the years.

  10. Joe

    Is this paint a two-stage with clear coat? Is is faded enamel which can buff out or dead because of clear coat clouding?

  11. kman

    OK, I have an ’08 Ranger with the 4.0 V6 and it can kick the s**t out of an awful lot of supposedly higher end cars like 5 series Bimmers. It can pull almost 6,000 lbs and corners very well. Yes it’s called a “Sport” though I don’t know why. Maybe the handling, which is very good. It also has LSD in the rear end but that can be a problem if you try to power out of a sharp hairpin in the rain….. Uh learned the hard way on that one. In winter a pair of cinder blocks in the back gets it around fine. It has ABS and came with air. I added dealer installed cruise, power locks, keyless entry and power windows. My daughter drove it for the first time recently and I guess I’m gonna loose it. BTW, apart from the front brakes, it’s bullet proof. I bought a 7 year bumper to bumper warrantee and never used it. NOTHING went wrong with it.

    • AMX Brian

      I have an ’07 4.0 and I can concur, mostly. I’ve never really tried to race a BMW. I think the auto is a little sluggish, but it corners really well and that;s without the rear sway bar I’m adding. That rear end does love to slide around in rain or snow(I ended up in a full fish tail on a slushy road. I usually don’t add weight, just pop the 4wd, but if I did I wouldn’t use cinder blocks. In a accident, they would just become projectiles. I get a few sand bags.

      It is definitely a reliable truck and I love the parts availability. Even some of the 80’s shoebox parts interchange.

      Here’s my favorite swap:
      http://therangerstation.com/tech_library/newer_cab_on_older_frame.shtml

  12. Tommy

    I think that Yamaha motor from the Taurus SHO bolts up to that manual.

  13. Todd Zuercher

    So rare to see one of these still around!

  14. Jdub

    I have owned this 1988 Ranger gt since I was a sophomore in high school in 1993 second owner. Slammed it to the ground.. Lowered I beams dropped spindles… DE arched the leafs and flipped the rear axle. I dont know why people are knocking the drivability of this… I had it chipped and some exhaust work and drove it hard… Real hard… It took every thing I threw at it… Never ever felt floaty or lose plenty of speed expecially out the gate… Loved it then still love it now….

  15. Chris in Nashville

    Looks like it is a no sale… Over priced…

  16. brakeservo

    Not necessarily a no-sale – seller posted his phone number like all good sellers should so perhaps he negotiated a sale with someone interested enough to call.

  17. Mercuryman

    This was posted before I started following barn finds so I doubt anyone will read it but anyway. I was at Waterford Hills track in 1988,watching the racing when I noticed a crowd clustered around a couple of Rangers in the paddock. Curious, I went over. One truck was a medium blue short box regular cab with the older front end and was owned by a couple of engineers from Ford. Under the hood was a pre production SHO V6 with a 5 speed manual trans. I got talking to them and they told me Ford was considering putting the truck into production as the GT Ranger. It had SVO rear disc brakes and a panhard rod with Bilstein’s and shorter springs. For wheels it had SVO rims with 225/50/16 General Grabber tires. The engine was basically stock with the exception of shorty headers and dual side exhaust. The truck was never approved as Ford felt the market wouldn’t be great enough to get the price low enough to be viable. So, these two guys used to track it for fun. Sounded awesome and went really well. The other truck was all white and was built with the same parts as the Saleen race Ranger. Both trucks were incredible to see driving on that little track. I wish they could have built the GT the way they wanted to. Good memory​.

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